As an email marketer, there’s no doubt you spend countless hours trying to build up your email lists. It’s disappointing to see reports of poor open rates or click numbers on the email marketing manager you’re using at the end of each and every campaign. It’s especially disheartening when you check the number of people who unsubscribed or asked to be removed from your list and find out that they’re in the hundreds.
What you need to do at this point is change how you’re running your campaigns. Maybe it’s time to go a different route in trying to get the people on your list to make a purchase, act on your recommendations, or spread the word about your website. You can figure out which elements to improve and how to do it by running A/B tests.
What is A/B Testing?
A/B testing is a marketing testing method where two versions of a certain element is created and presented to the intended audience. The variation which is preferred by more users is then used in the final marketing materials to be sent out to the rest of the group. The method is commonly used to optimize websites and email marketing copies.
A/B testing is comparable to multivariate testing, which also presents variations of certain elements to the intended recipients or site visitors. The difference is that more than one element is varied per test run for the latter method.
Using A/B Testing in Email Campaigns
Here’s an example of the method being used in email marketing: a marketer is selling a certain eBook to the people on his email list. In one email, he uses a call to action that goes “Buy today and get 40 percent off!” In the other email, his call to action reads “Limited time offer—Get the book today at 40 percent off!” They’re basically conveying the same message, although they’re worded differently.
The marketer sends the first message to 10 percent of his list and fires off the other one to another 10 percent. The version that got the most clicks or sales is then sent off to the remaining people on the email list.
Guide on How to Run an A/B Test
Before conducting your A/B test, write down the goals you want to achieve with your email campaigns as well as the criteria that you’re going to be using to judge the degree of success that you got with your emails.
Once those are ready, it’s time to review the last few emails that you sent out to your list. If you’re using an email marketing service or software to keep track of them, then you can view the statistics that each email got and check out the ones that got the highest open and click rates. You can then figure out what was different with these email copies, and list down these elements.
If you don’t have any way to track your email opens and click rates, then just assess the last few emails you sent out and note down which portions of your emails you’d like to change or improve. By this time, you should be looking for an email marketing service so you can track your emails and get data for your tests.
When this list is ready, choose the first element to test and prepare two variations for it. Divide your email list into two groups, and then send different versions to each one. You can also follow the example given earlier, where you send one version to a certain group, the other version to another group, and send the version that got better results to the rest of your list. Repeat the tests as necessary for the other components of your emails that you might want to test out.
Ruben Corbo is a freelancer writer which specializes in different topics including technology, online marketing with AB Test and Product Recommendation Engines, music, art, and motivation. When Ruben is not writing he is producing and composing music for short films and other forms of visual arts.